approaching the speed of light.

this is the fourteenth consecutive night that my sister has stayed at beacon place with my mother, while i’ve slept here about eight of those nights. yesterday a nurse suggested we contact my father, due to my mom’s staggered respiration and pallor. her skin feels dry and pebbled, like an ostrich with its feathers plucked. we wait for the next breath, sometimes fifty seconds elapse between, her chest becoming concave with the effort, every fiber strained to capacity to produce a single inhalation. she wasn’t supposed to survive a week, and now it’s been two.

we lie to ourselves, pretending she’s still aware of our presence, so every wince becomes a smile, every spasm becomes a grasped hand. sometimes her eyes open and frantically dance around the room, glossy and confused, frightened, blind. a pump, with a trigger active every eight minutes, releases a bolus of dilaudid. ativan is administered to (somewhat) calm involuntary muscle twitches. eventually she falls asleep again, peacefully. and we wait, deep furrows forming on our foreheads.

the last movement of hers that i can unequivocally rule as natural and controlled occurred earlier this week when i leaned in for a kiss before leaving the room. she pursed her lips to meet mine.


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